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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- A relatively unknown member of the Chicago Bears' practice squad only one year ago, former undrafted free agent Johan Asiata took every rep with the first team at left guard during Wednesday's organized team activity at Halas Hall.
"As long as I worked hard and did what I was supposed to do, I [knew] I'd eventually get there," Asiata said. "But I didn't expect it to be this offseason. But all I do is work and do what they tell me to do. Wherever they feel confident [playing] me, I'll just go off that."
Asiata's rapid ascent is even more impressive considering the former UNLV offensive lineman didn't play football in high school, first enrolling in a junior college before making his way to Las Vegas. After redshirting his first year – 2006 -- with the Rebels, Asiata started 24 games at both right tackle and left guard over his final two seasons.
The Bears signed the offensive lineman immediately following the 2009 NFL draft, but Asiata was among the final group cut as the team filled out its final 53-man roster. Asiata then spent his rookie year bounding back and forth from the Bears practice squad, until emerging as a potential starter earlier this offseason.
At 6-4, 300 pounds, Asiata has the body type necessary to play inside at guard, but jumping from the practice squad to the first team is a major adjustment.
"The biggest thing is that I'm getting into my playbook more because now they've got me out there with the [first unit]," Asiata said. "I just been trying to learn, because that's the only way I can get better. [Bears offensive line coach Mike] Tice has given me a chance, that's all I need. He's trusting in me more, giving me more opportunities. I'm just doing everything he tells me to do."
Jeff Dickerson covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.